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Virtual_Saku

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  1. The European Championship League is currently running its 9th iteration of competition. In order to get a snapshot of the perspective of the person behind it all, Slapshot Magazine reached out to Kenneth @Kenu Lehtinen, founder of NHLGamer.com. Interview by Yann @Virtual_Saku Maillet, Nov. 30th 2019. Here is the English internet version of the interview: Kenneth, can you introduce the origin of the NHLGamer project to our readers? NHLGamer.com originally saw the light of day over a decade ago, somewhere around 2004. What started as a website platform for friends to arrange NHL leagues together has since grown exponentially into what is today the largest community for NHL gamers in Europe. In late 2015, NHLGamer launched a new platform for a larger audience. Ever since we started, we've been providing a community experience and competitive action for gamers who enjoy the EA Sports NHL series. We've grown exponentially into one of the biggest communities worldwide and in launching the European Championship League (ECL) in 2015 was a groundbreaking step in our history. The ECL is a league where all the best European teams compete in a 6vs6 setting for titles in various divisions based on skill level. We also launched the North American counterpart in early 2019. On top of this, we host national leagues for Sweden, Finland, Russia and Germany. At its core, NHLGamer is a community of passionate gamers who strive to push our beloved sport onward. We've come a long way but are still just getting started. While we're proud of our achievements, we're continuously striving to find new ways to grow our community, host bigger tournaments with bigger prize pools and find new partners at the very cutting edge of gaming and esports. How many tournaments are you running today and how are you organizing for the whole thing to work? The main ecosystem of NHLGamer consists of two main leagues, accompanied by the national leagues for four countries. The main leagues are the European ECL and the North American NACL, while the national leagues consist of the FCL (Finland), GCL (Germany), RCL (Russia) and SCL (Sweden). We also do some other leagues and tournaments that are less about the competitiveness and more about the community aspect. In addition to our own products, we’ve co-operated with organizations like Ilta-Sanomat to create their IS Cup tournaments and a handful of other projects. How do we do it? Hard work. NHLGamer is fortunate to have not only the most passionate and devoted gamers, but also staff members possessing these same qualities. I have been doing this full-time since 2017. What is your economic model? Currently, our economy is driven by our staff (myself included) working pro-bono and all of the proceeds from the projects being reinvested into our expenses and prize pools. We are consistently growing and constantly talking to new potential partners and sponsors and that is a key step in the right direction of longevity and scalability. « Parallels between traditional sports and esports » What answer do you give to those who believe that esports isn't comparable to traditional sports? Does it really matter? Do we really care if someone thinks it is or isn’t a sport? That’s all about labels and beyond the point of what esports is about. Playing video games competitively at the top level requires several important skills. Some of these skills required of top players can be reflexes, strategy, teamwork and being able to perform under pressure. Being in good physical condition can definitely help with some of these things, such as reflexes, keeping your pulse steady under longer periods of stressful playing, staying concentrated and so on. From that perspective, you can draw many parallels between sports and esports. Many of our most successful players are active and successful in traditional sports and I definitely see it as a benefit in esports. Traditional sports teams such as Düsseldorf, Växjö and more recently Zurich, Luleå and Färjerstad have launched their official esports teams, is this a turning point? Do you know what motivates these clubs to take on the challenge? It’s no secret that esports is taking the world by storm and more and more companies are getting involved. It can be kind of hard and expensive to get involved with some of the more established games in esports at this point, whereas for NHL esports, this is the perfect time to come in as it is at the stage of maturing and growing season after season. There is starting to be an overall demand for businesses and especially sports organizations to get involved in esports, but not everyone feels like these massively famous games that revolve around violence and shooting are something that they want their brand to represent. For hockey organizations, getting involved in video game hockey seems like the most natural step. Having been introduced to what we do, combined with the passion, talent and devotion of the players in our community and an affordable entry-level cost - the interest towards our leagues has been big and you can expect a lot more organizations getting on board in the near future. The Washington Capitals have just done the same, should we expect an eNHL soon? It was only a matter of time before the first NHL organization got involved and we’re excited to welcome the Capitals into the scene. The NHL itself has, of course, produced their own NHL GWC for two years now in the 1v1 format and I’m surprised if they don’t join in on the 6v6 action within 2020-2021. Did you have any discussions with the IIHF about an official competition? I have not, but I am happy to talk to them and anyone else who is interested in entering this market. « Esports is the future of entertainment » Do you think that the general public will find this product appealing? Absolutely. The benefit of this game and sports titles, in general, is that if you’re at least remotely familiar with the sport, you can easily start watching our broadcasts and understand what’s happening on the screen. Something that gets me excited is how the general public engages with us during our live events; Seeing passer-by’s take out their phones to take photos, groups of people discussing what they’re seeing and people from all kinds of backgrounds finding their way to fill the seats in the audience. At the end of the day, it's really up to us as an organizer, EA SPORTS as the game developer and our community to create immersive leagues and tournaments with high production value in order to make it fun and enjoyable to watch for both the hardcore fans and the more casual crowd. How do you see the future of esports in general? There have been some talks about virtual Olympics, do you believe in it? Esports is the future of entertainment. I do believe the bubble will eventually burst with some of the most astronomical prize pools we see for some games. However, I don’t see that happening for a while or overall harming the great thing that esports already is today. Regarding the Olympics - there’s a common question I hear from time to time: Does esports need the Olympics, or is it the Olympics that need esports? Whatever the opinion, I do believe that it is the direction we are heading in - just last week the Finnish Esports Federation was approved as a member of the Finnish Olympic Committee. There are numerous bugs on NHL 20 and several glitches are still possible, are they a challenge to the development of your business and eHockey? I wouldn’t say that bugs and glitches are a big problem for the development of our business and the virtual hockey. I am a member of the EA SPORTS GameChanger program and actively provide them with information about any bugs that either I or the community stumble upon and I believe that it is a valuable line of communication to have in order for EA to keep improving their product for competitive play. The bigger concern that I have voiced to the producers and developers is that from our perspective there is a large demand for better broadcasting options, such as a spectator mode where the broadcaster would have control of the camera angles. Many people are indignant at the disparities of connection across the continent. For this reason, do you think that one day a multi-day LAN competition could bring the community together in a central place or country? Absolutely. That is definitely one of our goals and it is just a matter of time and cooperating with the right partners. Which team, and player, do you enjoy watching most? Our community is filled with a huge amount of talented and passionate players and teams. Some players shine with their incredible puck-handling skills and fancy goals, while others blow you away with ice-in-their-veins kind of calm and collected plays under the pressure in a game 7. Every season we get treated with both great defensive battles and offensive shootouts and while I do enjoy watching the best of the best - watching two even teams play in the lower divisions can be very entertaining as well. This article was published in Slaphot Magazine #99 – December 2019. It is released on NHLGamer.com with the kind authorization of Asphalt Rink Editions. Any copy of this text is strictly forbidden.
  2. Well @Unrealhave asked me to minimize your stats 😁😁😁
  3. NHLGamers, First they were 32 on the starting line, now remains only two that are about to face each other in the first ever ECL Neo Finals, played on Tuesday January 21st, in a best-of-5 final series. NHLGamer will be hosting a live broadcast of the entire series on Twitch. The broadcast will be starting at 19:00 CET and @Tougie24 together with @Cyn will be our casters that night, this is one you will not want to miss! Both teams are coming from Group 1 of the Neo division. TanssiiTuhtienKansa finished first with a record of 11-2-3 and Olympia came in just behind with a record of 11-3-2. Points in the groupstage were distributed evenly: 5-2 TanssiiTuhtienKansa then 3-0 Olympia for two points each. We decided to ask some questions from the team Captains ahead of the matchup: Can you shortly present your team and its history? @Hagerstrom_99, Olympia: "Olympia was founded just a couple of weeks before ECL 9 started. I've been playing the game since forever, but never played ECL before because of lack of time. I've been on the leaderboards in HUT, I've been undefeated 50-0-0 and it was time to actually do something serious. I guess I wanted to prove myself that I can. Instead of going to a higher tier division I wanted to start in Neo with my own team for the first time. I recruited @SWE_KARLSSON16 and @Bloodymess at an early stage and from there we created what we have now." @Unrealhave, TanssiiTuhtienKansa: "We have a great group of close friends in TanssiiTuhtienKansa. We created the team in NHL19 but we mostly played without a goalkeeper and 3's. There has been some roster changes along time but the core hasn't changed. We started playing competitive games in IS Cup 4 and we all love it despite the fact that we played terrible. We started to develop after really creating our game system. There is still a lot of work to do but we are eager to learn new and our goal is to play Pro in ECL 11. We are not the typical six persons team which always plays with the same roster. There are nine important pieces in our team at the moment. We will for sure change things around for the finals as well." What about the group phase, was it close? @Hagerstrom_99, Olympia: "We never played together before, all of us are new to each other. @BeastBenn14 (C) and @Teamplayer (LD) came in later. So as a group i think we definitely grew closer. I think I grew a lot as person by leading a team as a Captain although I'm familiar with that from real life already. Hating to lose sometimes shifted focus to negative, which could be improved. I think the groupstage was just the start for us. Now we have adapted to a playstyle that works and made a lot of progress." @Unrealhave, TanssiiTuhtienKansa: "As you can see both finalists are from the same group, that was definitely not the easiest one. It was a close group and I think there were many good teams left out of the playoffs. After all I think it was great for us because the tight games are the ones which improve you the most." Same for the playoffs phase, how do you see your run so far? @Hagerstrom_99, Olympia: "Playoffs have really been a turning point, being seeded eighth into the playoffs we met in my opinion some of the toughest opponents. I think we only lost two games and I thought they were pretty ridiculous losses to be honest. Our goal was to reach the playoffs, we did. Then we took one step at a time and really wanted to play in the semifinals. Against Kuutamokiekko we knew it was going to be tough, @Tsikago is a skilled and a good guy, they have a lot of good players. We really played our best hockey and swept them 3-0 and here we are, in the finals in our first ever run." @Unrealhave, TanssiiTuhtienKansa: "The playoff phase is always tight because everyone who has gone that far has already shown their skill. We have had some bad games along the playoffs but we have proven that we can play great when it's our life on the line." What kind of games are you expecting during the finals? @Hagerstrom_99, Olympia: "Against TanssiiTuhtienKansa I expect a skilful round, to be honest some games I've just wished for the game to end so it's nice to get this challenge. Some play styles are just really weary to play against. TanssiiTuhtienKansa is a good team, they have skilful players, but so do we. I hope to see good offense, good defense and some nice goals scored from us of course!" @Unrealhave, TanssiiTuhtienKansa: "Olympia is a great team. They play pretty tight, they are skilled in the offensive zone on the ice and they also read game situations really good. We need to be ready for the game before the puck hits the ice and I think we also need to play a bit simpler than usually. I'm expecting tight games which include fast hockey and lots of goals." Explain why your team will be the first ECL Neo Champ? @Hagerstrom_99, Olympia: "Olympia has the best goaltending and top tier players, we have players who really can change a game on their own. I know if we play the way we can, it's going to be tough beating us. We're proud to be here, but we won't stop until we are named Champions. Expect us." @Unrealhave, TanssiiTuhtienKansa: "We are a team, not just a bunch of individuals and we all believe on our game system. I think the main reason for being in this position is that we are always willing to find solutions on problems. We always try to improve our play and never play games without thinking of what we can do better. Within the group of friends we have a great team spirit. We always have fun when we play and we stay in touch with each other on a daily basis so even though we take the game seriously it's always a great way to spend some time with friends, especially now when some of the guys have moved to different cities. We also have a great mix of different kind of players who bring different things to the table. We have always succeeded when we have needed it, so we are confident that will be the atmosphere in the finals as well." The road to the finals Olympia 2nd seed of Group 1 / 11-3-2 (8th seed in total) Biggest win: 13-1 (Varissuon Toverit) Biggest loss: 2-5 (TanssiiTuhtienKansa) 67 GF / 34 GA / 40 % PP / 193 hits 1st round Kulmalahengaus: 3-1 2nd round Eliel Kings: 3-1 3rd round Kuutamokiekko: 3-0 Team leaders 1. @Hagerstrom_99 85 pts (46+39) 2. @SWE_KARLSSON16: 63 pts (39+24) 3. @BeastBenn14: 39 pts (8+31) Goaltending @Bloodymess: 85 % / 2.14 GAA / 1 SO (Playoffs 80.85 % / 2.25 GAA / 1 SO) THE KEY POINT : A deadly powerplay with a 40% success rate. TanssiiTuhtienKansa 1st seed of Group 1 / 11-2-3 (4th seed in total) Biggest win : 6-0 (Mustangs) Biggest lost : 0-3 (Olympia) 62 GF / 44 GA / 17.65 % PP / 89 hits 1st round MAD Knogmackers: 3-0 2nd round EIS Force Hockey: 3-2 3rd round Seinajoki Noms: 3-2 Team leaders 1. @Unrealhave: 86 pts (35+51) 2. @Valtter1111 : 82 pts (45+37) 3. @Wilhooo13 : 36 pts (17+19) Goaltending @Juhned32: 84.96 % / 2.13 GAA / 1 SO (playoffs : 88.37 % / 1.36 GAA / 2 SO) @Häkä : 76.52 % / 3.38 GAA / 1 SO (playoffs : 86.49 % / 2.5 GAA) THE KEY POINT : Four overtime victories since the start of the contest A massive thanks to @Hagerstrom_99 and @Unrealhave for being available to answer all questions. Good luck in the finals! Remember to tune in to the broadcast on Tuesday! Who do you think will win?
  4. We are facing this situation for almost a year here in France........ And it is worse since NHL20
  5. Virtual_Saku

    ECL 9 Neo Groups

    On behalf of Mustangs HC, great season to you all guys!
  6. Virtual_Saku

    ECL 9 Lite Groups

    We'll be back!! 🧗‍♂️ 😎😀
  7. The point on my view is that this period can be a vacations time for some people that could be away for a +/- long time and unable to play maybe for a week How I would solve? Absolutely no games played from December 22nd or 23rd to January 2nd or 3rd. But I can clearly understand that some players don't give a s*** about this period and just wanna play. But for some others it is a holidays/family/party moment that can prevent to be able to play
  8. Just seen that the playoffs are played during xmas and new year celebrations. Bit surprising no?
  9. Team name: Mustangs Team abbreviation: MUS Team captains (PSN IDs): Virtual_Saku, tromi13, Xxhockey-3xX Team roster (PSN IDs): peita84 Virtual_Saku tromi13 ROM-ATTAK julien-meudon Xxhockey-3xX Raphalsky69 caboli30 Xx_CoCo_rhe76_xX GoMeZ__M5 QzRiiot ECL Pro application: No EA SPORTS club overview: https://www.ea.com/games/nhl/nhl-20/pro-clubs/overview?clubId=11001&platform=ps4&isLocalized=true Previous team name(s): none
  10. Keep doing your amazing job you guys and thank you so much again !! A question : ECL will be a single edition upon NHL20? Cheers!!
  11. We try so buddy.... Nothing happens Remaining in the lobby again and again and again. Yesterday night 30 minutes of matchmaking and not any game played
  12. Good evening all ! I'm Yann, from France. I take a moment to write to you all on behalf of the french community (and probably more). I'm here to know how many of you are facing the same problems than us from Switzerland, Germany and more coutries that are not Sweden or Finland, and if we can try to ask EA Sports to find a solution (sweet dream but who knows....). Since a couple of months and still now with the new NHL20, we face very serious difficulties with the machmaking (mainly during 6v6 but also sometimes during 3v3). First we have to wait loooong minutes and minutes to find an opponent. Then, when we find it in local area we play very (very) often against the same teams (on NHL19 we played something like 50 times against Ice Aliens for instance). If we find a game in extended area, then we have to deal with very serious ping issues. Ping issues are a huge problem during ECL for us in France, but we try to accept that..... Well I don't like complaining, but too much is too much. Last week (don't remember what day) we stayed 25 minutes in the lobby without finding any opponent (local or extended search). Yesterday, 4 hours on the game, 4 games played ! ! We spend more time waiting in the lobby than playing, it can't be serious ! My objective is to know how many people are facing those problems and, trough NHLGamer, speak with EA Sports to find a solution. We can not stand dealing with those problems..... Best regards fellas
  13. For western Europe teams in eashl matchmaking is a disaster.... If you search in close area it will take 3 or 4 minutes and more to find always the same opponents If you search in extended area you will wait sometimes 10 minutes to play Russians or NA teams and your ping will be insane...... What a shame
  14. On behalf of the french community of NHLGAMER, I send to all his family, teammates and friends our thoughts and condolences. Rest in peace
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